FJ M38*


General Information: The Model 1938 helmet was the standard helmet of the German fallschirmjäger (paratroopers) in the Second World War. It was preceded by the now very rare Model 1936 and Model 1937 paratroop models which can be readily identified by the slots in the shell which were intended for a chinstrap configuration. Early M38s were painted in smooth feldgrau (field grey) paint and had two decals – the Luftwaffe eagle and national color shield. Wartime versions had rough, non-reflective feldgrau paint and single decals. In late-war helmets the decals were omitted. Until late 1942 the liners bore stamps with the maker’s name and address. Afterwards they had a Reichbetriesnummer (factory code number, abreviated “RB-Nr.”) instead.[1] The liners were secured to the helmet via spanner bolts which required a special tool to tighten. In the later part of the war, helmets were produced using slotted bolts, both vented and unvented. The slotted bolts had the advantage of not requiring a special tool to tighten or remove. The helmets were produced in three sizes: 66, 68, and 71. The Eisenhutten Thale plant in central Germany produced all fallschirmjäger helmets.[2]

Displayed Example: This is a wartime produced with rough, non-reflective feldgrau paint and a single decal. It is a size 71, the largest size. The lot number is 1783 which dates the helmet to 1941.[3] It came with capture papers stuffed into the liner. When I got the helmet, it was missing a spanner bolt which I replaced with an original spanner bolt salvaged from a damage helmet.

I purchased this helmet from somebody who was not a collector. He, in turn, purchased it in 1991 at an estate sale organized by a Presbyterian church in the Norfolk, Virginia area. According to the capture papers, the GI who brought the helmet home was Sgt. Henry H. Hirshbiel.  

Reading the deteriorating capture paper was like trying to decipher the Dead Sea Scrolls. Here’s my best shot at interpreting the thing with my guesses at missing segments in bracket.


                                                                                                     23 Oct. 44

I certify that I have personally examined th[] of captured enemy

military equipment mailed by Sgt. Henry H. Hirshbi[el?] ASN2[] 634647 [] that the

trophy value exceeds any training s[]ce or scrap [val]ue. th[]t th[] do not include

any explosives or firearms or parts of [firea]rms and th[e ma]ilin[g] [th]erof is in

conformity with the provisions of the S[]h[]217 WD[]the existing re-

gulations of this theater. 

The items referred to are 1-B[] 1-Helmet(German), 1-Belt and Cartridge case


Wilbert A. Klingmeyer

2nd Lt. AGD

Commanding Officer

Collector Notes: German paratrooper helmets are among the most desirable items for collectors of WWII helmets. They are not extremely rare, but they are very expensive due to demand. There is a huge amount of fakery of M38s, some of it good enough to fool even experienced collectors. Be careful, do your research, buy from reputable dealers. Do not buy from anybody who does not accept returns. Sorry, but the German paratrooper helmet you’re eyeing on Craig’s List – it’s a fake. The one on eBay – probably a fake too. Some of the early reproductions were made in size 71 and the size stamp for the number one had a character with a foot, versus the originals which had no foot, i.e. “1.” These are referred to in collector circles as the “footed one.” Originals had a manufacturing feature which was line scribed on much of the crimped section on the helmet’s interior edge. On most fakes, the crimp is smooth, although there are some reproductions that have the scribed feature. Those are two things to look for.

* Deaccessioned

* Citation pending

[1] Baer. 2002. pp.224.

[2] Niewiarowicz. 2009

[3] Ice. 2013

Published by maplecreekmilitaria

I am a collector of military headgear from 1915-1945

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